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Posts Tagged ‘hedgehogs’

A stirring thought from Hugh during his talk at Wilderness Festival: one of our Meet the Species feature events

To see more of Hugh, please visit his website or follow him on Twitter

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With great thanks to The Wildlife Garden Project for this video! For more videos and information on how you can help wildlife in your garden, visit www.wildlifegardenproject.com

Film made by Laura Turner

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Why did the hedgehog cross the road? Well, sorry to ruin the fun but for many reasons, and we want to make sure they’re safe doing so. We talk to Richard Wembridge from People’s Trust for Endangered Species about what we can do to help hedgehogs and more about PTES’s project, Hedgehog Street!

The hedgehog is one of our most charismatic and popular native mammals, but in 2007 it was assigned the status of a ‘priority species’ for conservation in the UK and there is strong evidence that its numbers are declining alarmingly.

The first real indication of a decline came from our Mammals on Roads survey, an annual count of hedgehogs and other species along road journeys. This, together with records from other surveys, such as our Living with Mammals and the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch and Breeding Bird Survey, suggest hedgehog numbers may have fallen by a quarter in only the last ten years.

In response, PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) set up Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign to get people involved in hedgehog conservation. Since last spring, over 20,500 volunteers have signed up to become ‘Hedgehog Champions’ and received or downloaded an information pack to inspire and recruit people in their neighbourhood.

In urban and suburban areas, changes in the way gardens are managed can affect how well hedgehog populations fare. Where garden boundaries are impermeable to wandering hedgehogs, and roads become busier, populations can become isolated and unsustainable. Gardeners who are too tidy or who tarmac their land deplete foraging, nesting and hibernation opportunities.

Stephen Heliczer (c) 2012

More widely, the causes of the hedgehog’s problems are complex and not fully understood. More research is needed, particularly in rural settings. PTES and BHPS are funding work at WildCRU, University of Oxford, in which radio-tracking will help show how hedgehogs use arable farmland in Oxfordshire. The findings will be invaluable in guiding future conservation.

So, what has Hedgehog Street achieved? Over 2,500 Hedgehog Champions told us what they’ve been up to. Over 50 per cent have involved at least one neighbour in the project, making a total of 4,699 neighbours in 3,677 households attached to about 293 hectares of land – 33 times the infield area of the London 2012 Olympic stadium. So far our Champions have created 2660 new hibernation sites, 5064 natural feeding areas, removed 3,404 hazards and linked 4,823 gardens.

These figures represent tangible benefits for hedgehogs, and for other species, and might just ensure that hedgehogs remain a wild denizen of our gardens and urban spaces.

Nigel Kingwill (c) 2012

To take part in Mammals on Roads survey or for information about Hedgehog Street champion, visit the PTES website (www.ptes.org) or email enquires@ptes.org.

About PTES

In the UK, 90 per cent of water voles and 75 per cent of hazel dormice have been lost in recent years. Overseas, turtles are regularly caught and killed in fishing gear, lions are illegally shot and the seahorse population in south East Asia has halved. People’s Trust for Endangered Species has been working tirelessly to save endangered species within their habitats for 35 years. We support practical conservation work and research worldwide with a special focus on British wildlife. This is made possible by donations from our supporters and grants from charitable organisations, as we receive no core funding from the government. For more information about our charity, please visit our website www.ptes.org.

 With many thanks to David Wembridge & PTES for their great contribution!

Click here to follow PTES on Facebook & Twitter.

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Hugh Warwick

 

 

I have been studying our only prickly mammal over the last 25 years. Initially I was working as an ecologist, looking at how they behaved, but the more time I spent with them in their nocturnal world, the more I realised that these charismatic beasts were actually rather special.

I helped stop the cull of hedgehogs up in the Outer Hebrides (they were accused of eating eggs of ground-nesting birds) – proving that they could moved to the mainland without the sorts of problems that the authorities imagined. And through this I began to work more closely with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (http://www.ptes.org)

Hugh meets a hedgehog pal

We were all getting worried about hedgehogs. The population seemed to be in decline from all the surveys we had run, so we handed all the data we had over to the statisticians at the British Trust for Ornithology and they gave us a dramatic answer. Conservatively the number of hedgehogs in Britain has fallen 25% in the last 10 years alone. And the fall before that is likely to have been as dramatic, but we did not have the data.

One of the main problems is habitat fragmentation – the splitting up of good hedgehog habitat into smaller pieces with roads, industrial farming, housing and even changes in gardens. With this in mind we launched Hedgehog Street (http://www.hedgehogstreet.org) and have already recruited nearly 23,000 households to the cause. You can see it on Countryfile this Sunday (BBC 1, 1930) – and learn how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, and, most importantly realise that however hedgehog friendly it is, it is useless unless hedgehogs can get in! So, get talking to your neighbours about making holes in the fence!

Why should we care so much? Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, they are a very important species. We could just look at their diet of macro-invertebrates – things like slugs and snails – to see how great they are to have in the garden. We could also consider that they are yet another piece of the great web of life. Imagine your favourite jumper – it can cope with a few moth holes, but there comes a time when a hole appears in just the wrong place and everything begins to unravel; well, that is like the ecosystem. And we can never know which is the crucial piece of the puzzle.

But that is not why I think they are so important. Hedgehogs give us a chance to see a really wild animal at close quarters. There are very few other beasts out there with which we can get so close – I have been nose-to-nose with a hedgehog, looking into its beady, bright eyes. I first did it with a hedgehog called Nigel. As it happened it dawned on me that the large conservation and wildlife charities have got it wrong. We are not going to be seduced into loving the natural world through the charismatic mega fauna, the lions and whales. That is like assuming we will form meaningful relationships with the people pictured in Heat or Hello magazines.

The Big Issue- Hugh talks hedgehogs

We are going to fall in love with the girl or the boy next door – not an A-List member of the charismatic mega-fauna of celebrity. And the hedgehog is the animal equivalent. We actually have a chance to get close to and understand a little about the hedgehog. So, if you meet one, get down on your tummy, get nose-to-nose and look for the glint of wild in its eyes. And then, just possibly, you will be seduced into really falling in love with the world around you.

Hugh Warwick is the author of A Prickly Affair and, most recently, The Beauty in the Beast. He also maintains an active and eccentric blog: http://www.urchin.info

Thank you Hugh Warwick for all of your great contributions and continued support! You can follow Hugh on twitter @hedgehoghugh

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